Ballots have now dropped in Jeffco, including questions 5A (a $33 million mill levy override) and 5B (a $567 million bond). In the last edition of Chalk Talk, we looked at the bond, question 5B. In this edition, we’ll take a look at the mill levy override, question 5A.
A quick disclaimer – as a public employee, I’m not allowed to ask people to vote for or against things on the ballot. However, I do feel it is important that I make sure our community is informed about their choices on the ballot in a fair and balanced way.
Question 5A would allow Jeffco Public Schools to levy a property tax that generates $33 million for our schools, adjusting annually for inflation. 5A dollars would go into the district’s general fund and would be available on an ongoing basis for things that have to be paid for every year, such as salaries for teachers and staff.
That property tax increase comes to about $2.10 per month, per hundred thousand dollars of residential value. For non-residential property, it’s about $8.47 per month, per hundred thousand dollars of value.
5A has specific uses written into the ballot question. These include:
• Expanding programs in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), and in career/technical education;
• Attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and staff;
• Improving student safety;
• Updating outdated instructional resources such as books, supplies, and technology; and
• Increasing early education programs.
5A also has some restrictions written into the ballot language. These include:
• Funds cannot be used for senior district administration;
• Spending is overseen by a citizen advisory committee; and
• The funds are subject to an annual independent audit.
There are both arguments for and against ballot question 5A. I encourage you to visit the Jeffco Public Schools Future Funding website to learn more about those. There are comprehensive 500-word arguments both for and against in your voter guides (known as the Blue Book), which was mailed earlier this month.
What will we do with these funds? The Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution in August, directing that 50% of the funds would go toward increasing competitiveness with surrounding districts in terms of compensation, 20% for increasing school safety and security, 10% for expanding career/technical education and STEM options, 10% for improving classroom materials and technology, and 10% for expanding early education.
Ultimately, we look to the voters to have the final say on how we fund schools in Jeffco, and in Colorado so please take the time to learn about these important ballot issues.